Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins completed 33 of 44 passes for 455 yards, three yards away from breaking quarterback Art Schlichter’s record of 458 yards set in 1981. He threw six touchdown passes, tying a single-game record shared by quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Kenny Guiton.
These are the numbers that Haskins puts up, and his reaction is the same. There is still more the offense can do, what he can do, to help Ohio State get to where its expectations lie: a Big Ten championship, a College Football Playoff appearance and a national championship.
Haskins views himself as the face of this offense and, with the struggles in other areas, like the running game on offense, he left Ohio State’s 49-26 win over Indiana on Saturday less than satisfied.
“You know, even though we won, it didn’t feel like one of the best games we played,” Haskins said. “Gotta keep getting better. But let down, no, but room for improvement.”
To Haskins, this was an offense that was still tired from its performance against Penn State on Sept. 29, saying the practices leading up to the game against the Hoosiers were “low energy,” finding a way to win despite having to overcome adversity and an offense that “wasn’t pretty.”
As the redshirt quarterback strives to improve, strives to lead this Ohio State team to the promised land, players around him see something else.
“I think you guys are witnessing a legend in the making,” redshirt senior wide receiver Parris Campbell said. “The things that he can do throwing the ball, the leader he’s becoming, he’s just really developing into a great leader, and obviously the stats speak for themselves, but beyond that, just the player he’s become and the person he’s become it’s really legendary status.”
In six games as a starting quarterback, without any prior experience in that role before Sept. 1 against Oregon State, Haskins has thrown 26 touchdowns, which is No. 1 in the FBS. Completing 70.8 percent of his passes, he has thrown at least four passing touchdowns in four of six games played, the same number of games he has thrown for more than 300 yards in.
Even without the statistics, redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin said he has done things on the field first-year starters rarely accomplish.
“I feel like a guy who is a first-year starter. I’m not going to take any credit from the guys doing what they’re doing at other schools, but he’s beat two top 15 teams on the road in tough environments and through a lot of adversity,” McLaurin said. “For a first-time quarterback to come in do that with our offense, the numbers he’s putting up… helping him out as receivers. The more plays we make for him the more confidence it gives him and his ability takes over the rest.”
However, Haskins said he is not worried about his personal numbers, even though he is happy about the statistical performance he put up. He said he’s happy Ohio State got its sixth win of the season.
In the opinion of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, this is the head space he wants his starter to stay in.
Even with a record in Haskins’ clutches, Day said the coaching staff called the game like they would any other game: trying to secure the victory.
“Do what you do no matter what,” Day said. “If you start getting worried about all that stuff, bad things happen, in my opinion. I think there are football gods out there and I don’t think that works well.”
One of the main ideas of the Ohio State football program is focusing on improving things that players and coaches themselves can control. Head coach Urban Meyer said after the game that he doesn’t want to hold Haskins back from talk about postseason accolades. He wants him to focus on what he can control, which is a matchup with Minnesota next week.
Day said Haskins has continued to show poise inside the pocket, but said it’s much more than just the quarterback, crediting the pass protection and the receivers making plays as a contribution to his success.
However, only six starts into his tenure as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, Day said every start for Haskins is a learning experience.
“Dwayne is a talented young man. Hasn’t played a lot of football, but obviously has had some success this year,” Day said. “That doesn’t mean anything if you don’t go and win the next game and continually get better.”
However, if Ohio State continues to win on the shoulders of Haskins, leading a high-powered offense to meet the expectations others have set for it, Day said anything could happen.
“If we keep getting better, then I think the sky’s the limit,” Day said.